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Abstract

In this paper, we leverage detailed, individual-level student data to understand the relationships between family finances, merit-based aid, and first-year student retention. With three cohorts of student data that comprise family financial status, institutional merit scholarships, and many of the other known correlates of student retention, we regress sophomore retention of first-time, full-time students on the financial variables with controls. We find that an increase in a family’s ability to contribute to educational costs improves a student’s chances of retention. Additionally, our data show that institutional financial assistance also bolsters the likelihood that students return for their sophomore year.

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